Posts Tagged ‘Ireland’

This is also known as All Saints’ Eve and Samhain, the celebration is observed around the world on October 31st. It is on the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows but some scholars believe that this is part of the older festivals of the dead such as the Celtic Samhain, some say it developed independently.

Samhain itself is mentioned in Irish mythology as it marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or ‘darker half’ of the year. The stock-taking and preparing for the winter ahead, cattle were brought in from the pasture and the livestock slaughtered. In the Gaelic world they would light bonfires and enjoy the rituals involving them, the rituals hint that they might once indicated human sacrifice.

It was considered to be the door to the “otherworld” and opened enough for the souls of the dead to come into the home world. The souls of the dead were said to revisit their old homes, and feasts were held with places of honour for the dead. It is also thought that the idea of wearing a costume came from the idea of of disguising themselves amongst the spirits and fairies. It might also be an extension to the Ireland custom from the 19th Century whewre a man dressed as a white man would lead youths door to door to collect food; by giving them the food the household could expect the good fortune from the Muck Olla.

There are lots of customs and rituals, historical citations about Halloween but this festival also migrated over to North America where it has become a national celebration with some very large parties and the tradition of trick or treat.

There are games and movies galore that incorporate or centralise on the Halloween theme, for instance Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas which was brought into the games series of Kingdom Hearts and saw the hero of the games fighting various troubles there. Halloween the film was an original blockbuster horror that has seen a revival and remake thanks to Rob Zombie. There are so many that I could mention but I could spend an age on it when really right now it’s time to go and stuff myself sick with candy, look at zombie nurses and drink a couple of Bloody Mary’s!

Enjoy your festive season all.

In Dublin, Ireland, there is St Michan’s Church and underneath it lays the crypts. There are five long burial vaults with the mummified remains of 17-19th Century notable families.

Though there is no exact date of origin they may date from when the church was rebuilt in 1685, the dry atmosphere appears to have been a factor in the mummies and their preserved coffins. The limestone walls mean the area is dry and perfect for creating the natural conditions required for these mummies.

It is believed that Bram Stoker, creator of the novel Dracula, visited the vaults in the company of his family.

One of the vaults houses a man known as “Crusader” though his body is only around 650 years old (other sites say 400). Looking around at stories for him I have conflicting tales but one says his feet were taken off due to being so tall, for some reason they also removed his right hand.  Another site told me the man was over six feet tall, yet another claims it was over eight feet?

There are also the various bodies laid here of those that held the title Earl of Leitrim. Don’t pop by on a Sunday though just to visit the crypts as they are closed so that the residents can enjoy their normal services.

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Mary MacMahon married Conor O’Brien, the owner of Leamaneh Castle, now in ruins. They married in 1639 and she would often accompany him on raids against English Invaders. 25th July 1651 Conor was ambushed and mortally wounded by Cromwell’s men; he died in her arms later that night.

Mary went to Cromwell’s Commander-In-Chief and offered to marry any English army officer who had the courage to ask her to marry him. A young standard-bearer named John Cooper had the guts and so they married. Mary is reputed to have murdered him later on when she pushed him out of a window at Leamaneh when he was drunk.

Máire (Mary) was alleged to have been a cruel woman, she would hang servants that displeased her. She also had an insatiable appetite for both sexes and lusted for them both.

Some say Máire met her end when enemies entombed her alive inside a hollow tree and left her to starve to death. Some say on a ride from Ennis to Corofin one stormy night, her hair was caught in a branch above the road. She was hanged, when she was swung off the horse, by her own hair!

Video only loosely related but Monty Python’s  Oliver Cromwell makes me giggle.